Why nobody washes a hire car – and the implications for careers

I attended a great seminar last week delivered by Mark Fritz. His theme was all about ownership – and how we need to focus our people on outcomes and not activities. There was a huge amount of value that could be applied to almost any aspect of business – including career management.

He’s right of course. Nobody washes a rental car because it isn’t theirs. In the same way, Chiumento has always argued that people only succeed in their careers when they take ownership of the results. Rather than sit back and wait for somebody to do something to them or for them.

That’s why, for example, our outplacement consultants teach people how to write a good CV – rather than us offer the services of a professional CV writer. The CV will never be yours if it has been written by a stranger. And as you progress through the recruitment process a skilled assessor will start to spot the subtle inconsistencies between the “sales pitch” in the CV and the reality of the person in front of them.

Helping more people gain the lifelong career skills needed to succeed is what we do. As the world gets more complex, and the future less certain, we need the adaptability, resilience and pace to re-invent ourselves. Otherwise we run the risk of being overtaken by events. To do that we need a core set of career skills including ownership.

In my job I get to meet a lot of people who complain about the lack of career opportunities. My standard reply is “what are you doing about it?” That is often followed by an ominous period of silence.

They seem to expect employers to be creating career paths for them, rather than identifying the outcome they want and taking ownership for achieving it. That might mean self-funding training or investing personal time in networking or personal development. Not waiting to be told “you’re booked on a course…”

Before this begins to sound like a one way street, let’s also remember that nobody successfully hires out filthy cars either. The car hire company has to do the hard work to make sure that the next incumbent gets a vehicle in tip top condition. Or they won’t stay as a customer for long. In employment we call that engagement.

Employers who just ignore feedback about lack of career opportunities face losing their best people. You can’t allow careers to become the elephant in the room.

People don’t deliver their best if they have too little passion for the job. There’s no “why” in their working life – i.e. the individual has no answer to the key question: “why should I get out of bed and do a great job today?” Just paying people isn’t enough.

Increasingly I see career management as a collaborative journey – one where enlightened employers and individuals recognise that the end game for both may not be a lifetime together. Employers make people redundant. Employees choose to move on. However during the time they are together the relationship will only be truly productive if there is mutual respect and a balance between organisational imperative and individual aspiration. Think about it as people hiring jobs, and organisations hiring people. Together they’ve a mutual interest in keeping things bright and shiny.

Ian Gooden
Chief Executive

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